Magpie Mine, close to Ashford-in-the-Water and now a listed industrial monument, is like a number of other lead mines in the Peak District alleged to be haunted. The mine was worked for 300 years until its closure in 1924, and is said to have been cursed, as it has a record of fires, floods, and rockfalls. According to David Clarke in Ghosts and Legends of the Peak District (1991), the curse may have originated in 1833, when three men were suffocated in the lead workings.
R. A. H. O’Neal, in an article on lead mines and mining in Derbyshire Countryside (1957), gives an account of a spectre thought to have been seen in the mine in 1946. He writes:
Just after the war a party of speleologists were exploring the mine when one of them reported that he had seen a man with a candle walking along a tunnel from which he disappeared without any trace. A photograph of another member of the party on a raft in a sough [short level for drainage] at the mine showed a second man standing, apparently, on nine feet of water. The Old Man was clearly either trying to protect his ancient rights or to help the twentieth century searchers find the ore, which is reported to be thick and pure in the main vein now 150 feet below the water level.
O’Neal says ‘T ’Owd Mon’, or the Old Man, was a generic name for the miners of former days, but also describes him as ‘a kind of guardian spirit over the mine’. He reputedly also haunted Hanging Flat Mine, near Eyam, where he wandered around the fluorspar workings with a spade over his shoulder and muttering to himself. S. O. Addy says it was the custom of Derbyshire miners on Christmas Eve to leave half a candle burning in the mine for T ’Owd Mon when they finished work for the holiday. If he was inclined to lead miners to good veins of ore, T ’Owd Mon would be one of the more helpful spirits to be found in haunted mines.
Although Magpie Mine is now run as a field centre by the Peak District Mines Historical Society, David Clarke reports that it ‘retains an eerie atmosphere’.